Green: Valley is desperate for its next star
When I was 15 or so I made it a point to collect as much sports memorabilia as I could of the Valley's upcoming star players. The late 90s, I decided to build my collection around Jason Kidd, Jake Plummer and Travis Lee.
Clearly I bet on the wrong horses at that time, but who could blame me? As a fan I wanted my teams to have stars I could root for, players who would be around for a while and take the teams farther than they had ever been before.
Sure, Plummer took the Cardinals to the playoffs and Kidd was a perennial All-Star, but Lee was a total bust and none of the three left the Valley on a high note.
Now, more than a decade later, the same teams are again looking for that guy, and until they find him us fans will do what we always do: wait and hope.
Who could be that guy?
Well, the Diamondbacks have a 23-year-old kid named Justin Upton, who was an All-Star in 2009 and has the potential to be one of the best players in baseball. However he not only struggled with injuries and attitude last year, but also found himself on the trade block in the offseason.
The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, and he's great. The problem is that with just one year left on his contract and no quarterback to get him the ball, Fitz may soon carry the prefix "Former Arizona Cardinal" before his name. As great as he is, if the Pro-Bowl WR leaves he would be taking the hopes and dreams of Arizona Cardinals fans with him.
As for the Suns, well, youth has not exactly been a priority of theirs the last few years. They may have traded away a potential star last Thursday, and their best players are in their 30s. Not exactly players you can build around, and at this point fans are left fearing the end of their careers instead of eagerly anticipating what the future holds.
Of course, who could forget the Coyotes - except for everyone, it seems. Their most recognizable and popular player is Shane Doan who, at 34, is not exactly in the prime of his career. They have a few guys who could take the mantle - Keith Yandle and Mikkel Boedker, as well as the increasingly popular Paul Bissonnette, but until the Coyotes franchise can get the Valley's support their players will be hard pressed to capture its attention.
It is this lack of stars that causes everyone to rally behind less-than-stellar players in the hopes that maybe; just maybe they will reach that lofty status.
Fans end up rooting for guys like Barry Enright, Goran Dragic, Max Hall and John Skelton with the hope they'll turn into something, while overvaluing a mediocre "talent" like Eric Byrnes. Sometimes you even get an irrational and maybe creepy love affair like this one for a guy like Marcin Gortat. Good player yeah, but a star? Not likely.
The irrational love of certain players is not so much a problem but a symptom of Arizona's desperate search for the next star. At this point the stars we have are either nearing retirement or possibly their next team, either of which would leave us in a rough situation.
It's not fun, as a fan, to live in fear. While we know our teams are not likely to be competing for championships, we at least deserve some players who are regarded as some of the best in their respective sports, who our teams can build around. The teams need guys who we know that if they are on the roster we will always have a chance. Players who we know won't fail us.